Robert B. Kauffman, Ph.D.


Abbreviated Vita


Writings and Essays

Boating Safety and Expert Witness

Whitewater Park, GAP Trail, Narrows, etc.

Return to FSU Recreation and Parks Management Website



Cumberland Whitewater Park (White Water)

The focus of this section is on whitewater parks including the proposed whitewater park in Cumberland, Maryland. The materials contained herein are independent of the development of the proposed whitewater park by Canal Place.

The information contained in the commentaries, power points and other resource materials should provide background content to anyone interested in the Cumberland whitewater park is feasible, pratical, cost efficient and a great idea. Like any idea, it needs to be executed correctly. The materials presented herein will hopefully do this.


I have authored a series of commentaries in the Cumberland Times-News. These commentaries focus on developing outdoor recreation opportunities in Cumberland, Maryland. The commentaries tend to focus on developing a whitewater park and the GAP trail. More recently, they have begun to focus on climbing opportunities in the Narrows. The commentaries in this section focus on the whitewater park in Cumberland.


Cumberland would do well to establish a whitewater park
Thursday, August 31, 2017, A-4.

Cumberland should take advantage of its river - September 4, 2014, p. 5-A

Why We Need a Whitewater Park in Cumberland
October 24, 2013, p. 5-A

City Needs to Reconnect with the Potomac River?
September 24, 2013, p. 5-A

What is the Best Vision for the Potomac River - September 5, 2013, p. 5-A

River park would be a valuable asset for city - Thursday, July 15, 2009 page 5A



This is the concept piece for the whitewater park. It is a park that features a whitewater course. This is an important point. An amusement park is a park that uses the roller coaster as its main attractant. Like the roller coaster, the whitewater course provides the main attractant for the other activities that occur within the park. When viewing this power point, keep this point in mind.

Click here for the Cumberland whitewater park power point [Note: Use the pdf version below.]
Click here here for the pdf version.


Everyone visits the River Walk in San Antonio and goes away wanting one in their backyard. Don't get me wrong. The River Walk in San Antonio is absolute neat and wonderful. However, there are two good reasons why it won't work in Cumberland.

First, both rivers feature an oxbow in the river. In San Antonio, the oxbow is in the center of town. Cumberland is located on the tip of the oxbow. San Antonio is suited for intense commercial development. Cumberland isn't. The whitewater park concept is more suitable for Cumberland.

Second, people don't realize the infrastructure required to maintain the River Walk. For example, they dug a 24 foot tunnel to carry 1/2 of the known flood waters underneath San Antonio and yet, it still floods. For Cumberland, the lesson from San Antoino in terms of cost/benefit analysis is that the benefits of a River Walk type River Walk in Cumberland is far offset by its costs. It may be nice, but it is not feasible or practical.

The River Walk is a neat place and I love it. However, it doesn't fit the typology of Cumberland. The attached power point is from a presentation that I presented in San Antonio on the behind the scenes tour of the River Walk. I love the irony of having the privilege as an outsider to present on the River Walk in San Antonio.

Click here for the San Antonio River Walk power point.
Click here for the pdf version.


I have visited several whitewater courses and parks. Reno, Nevada has a lot in common with Cumberland. First, they sought to rejuvenate the river environment. See my commentary on reconnecting with the Potomac River. Second, it is a park that features a whitewater course. Again, the whitewater course is the attraction of people to the park. It is a whitewater park with many supporting services and activities that complement the whitewater course. Third, the Reno whitewater park has much in common with Cumberland and Canal Place. They have an amplitheater, shops lining the river, trails, and of course, the whitewater course. Fourth and by design, the whitewater park addresses local needs. Tourism is an added benefit.

Click here for the power point version of Reno whitewater park
Click here for the pdf version.


Confluence Park in Denver was one of the first sites visited back in 2001. The power point is a cut down version of the original power point that I used for Cumberland.

Click here for the power point version of Confluence Park.
Click here for the pdf version.


Like the power points above, the photo gallery includes select slides of different whitewater parks around the country. They provide a survey of what others have done and they suggest what can be done in Cumberland.

Boise, Idaho:

Boise, Idaho takes full advantage of the river running through it. They have an eight mile river trip for tubers and rafters that ends in the center of town. The Recreation and Parks Department runs a bus shuttle for three dollar. There are no pictures, but I did write a commentary on it. Click here for the commentary.

Boise has a river park. It includes a
"park and play" whitewater feature. In Cumberland, the flatwater activities would be available above the dam and the whitewater activities below the dam. The following slides are of the park.

Surfers Surfing:
A wave is a wave is a wave. They can be surfed with a surf board too. The following slides are surfers surfing the artificial wave.
Slide: \BOISE025[vg].JPG
Slide: \BOISE109.JPG
Slide: \BOISE115.JPG

Kayakers Surfing:
Slide: \BOISE052[gd].JPG
Slide: \BOISE158.JPG - A kayaker surfing the wave behind the park and play drop. On the right, this picture shows the baffles that can be inflated or deflated to adjust the wave characteristics.

Stand-up Paddlers:
Slide: \BOISE130.JPG - A group of stand-up paddlers paddling in the flat water above the park and play whitewater feature.
Slide: \BOISE065[gd].JPG - Next to the river is a small lake with a beach. People swim and paddle on the stand-up boards.

Life Jacket Loaner Station:
Slide: \BOISE093.JPG - Loaner life jackets are provided for people to use who didn't bring one with them. It seems to work.

Denver, Colorado - Confluence Park

Located at the confluence of the Platte River and Cherry Creek, Confluence Park is part of the urban renewal project which included the old power plant which is now an REI Store. The whitewater park includes bike trails, the REI store and the whitewater course. See the power point on the Confluence Park above for the whitewater course and park.

I revisited Confluence Park in June 2015. It was a high water period. Rivers flood. As the photos show, it is a design issue. Several of the photos show potentially unsafe situations.

Confluence Park Sign:
Slide: \CONF-054.JPG
Slide: \CONF-083.JPG

Whitewater Course (Low Water):
These slides were taken in 2001. Note the upstream (07) and downstream (04) views and compare them with the high water views. At higher water, the overflow dam (02) diverts water from the whitewater course to the overflow dam.
Slide: \ww03surf.jpg
Slide: \ww04view.jpg
Slide: \ww07viewup.jpg
Slide: \ww02dam.jpg

High Water Conditions:
Rivers flood, the whitewater course is designed to be flooded. The 052 slide looks upstream and the 077 slide looks downstream. Compare these slides with the low water pictures above (04 &07).
Slide: \CONF-044.JPG
Slide: \CONF-050[gd].JPG
Slide: \CONF-085.JPG
Slide: \CONF-052.JPG
Slide: \CONF-077.JPG

High Water Conditions (continued):
The following scenes are different shots of the same scene at the confluence of Cherry Creek with the Platte River. No life jackets are worn and waders could be swept into the rapids below.
Slide: \CONF-055.JPG
Slide: \CONF-056[gd].JPG
Slide: \CONF-057.JPG

Cherry Creek Bike Trail:
Slide: \CONF-064[gd].JPG
Slide: \CONF-076[gd].JPG

Reno, Nevada:

The Truckee River flows though Reno, Nevada. In an effort to rejuvenate the river, Reno created a whitewater park that features a whitewater course. Conceptually, it has a lot in common with Cumberland. It has an amplitheater, trails, a park and of course, the whitewater course. The whitewater park rejuvenated the riverscape. Real estate values of the condos along side the river increased significantly.

Slide: \Reno001.jpg - This slide shows the skyline bordering the whitewater park. Also, it shows one of the park and play features at low water. The island with the amplitheater is on the right and the bridge connects to the island.

Slide: \Reno005.jpg
- Condos, shops and walkway line the shore near the whitewater course. Note the map of the whitewater park in the lower right of the photo.

Slide: \Reno006.jpg- The walkway goes under a busy street on the island. Note the park atmosphere.

Slide: \Reno011.jpg - A close up view of the artificial park and play feature during low water.

Slide: \Reno013.jpg - The amplitheater.

Salida, Colorado:

Salida, Colorado has much in common with Cumberland, although Cumberland has a larger population. They both have a river running through it (the town) and the river is or should be the focus of the community. Salida has a cost efficient whitewater park that enhances the natural flow of the Arkansas River. In the center of town there is an amplitheather with the river and whitewater course visible in the background. People come to "park and play" on the artificially enhanced rapids. Others come to watch those playing. The mural on the side of the building suggests how important the whitewater park is to the community. Consider the murals in Cumberland and Frostburg that depict the heritage of the area.

Slide: \SALIDA-006.JPG - Resturant overlooking the whitewater course
Slide: \SALIDA-009[gd].JPG - Amplitheater with river in background
Slide: \SALIDA-013[gd].JPG - The mural on the side of the building suggests the importance of the river to community
Slide: \SALIDA-014[gd].JPG - Kayaker surfing a wave
Slide: \SALIDA-023[gd].JPG - Kayaker surfing a wave

U. S. National Whitewater Center

The U. S. National Whitewater Center is located outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a park that features a whitewater course. The whitewater course is man-made and is the main attraction much like the roller coaster is the main attraction in an amusement park. Complementing the whitewater course is a zip line, climbing wall, and resturants. The Whitewater Center is what ASCI was supposed to be before they ran short of funding.

Resturants, snack bar, guest services, and offices are located in this facility which overlooks the whitewater park. The zip line is at the far end of the building.
Slide: \USNWC066.JPG
Slide: \USNWC005.JPG
Slide: \USNWC068.JPG

The following are several slides of rafters running the whitewater course.
Slide: \USNWC020[gd].JPG
Slide: \USNWC023[gd].JPG
Slide: \USNWC026].JPG
Slide: \USNWC034.JPG
Slide: \USNWC040[gd].JPG
Slide: \USNWC043.JPG



photo of Dr. Kauffman


Cumberland Whitewater Park Location
There is an 18 foot drop behind the Blue Bridge in Cumberland, Maryland.

Cumberland Whitewater Park simulation
The backfill design convert the dam into a free-flowing whitewater course or rapids.


San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio River Walk, San Antonio, Texas - When people think of river walks, they think of the San Antonio River Walk. It is the model. Unfortunately, its formula for success does not work for Cumberland. file: \pwrpt001bridge[60].jpg.

Boise Idaho Whitewater Park
Boise, Idaho - A wave is a wave is a wave. Surfers can surf waves also. file: BOISE115.JPG.

Denver, Colorado Confluence Park
Denver Colorado - Confluence Park - A whitewater park that contains a whitewater course. file: \ww07viewup.jpg.

Reno, Nevada Whitewater Course - Truckee River
Reno, Nevada - The Trukee River Recreational Area (Whitewater Park) is lined with condos and shops. file: \Reno005.JPG.

Salida, Colorado Whitewater Park
Salida Colorado - Amplitheater with river in the background is similar to Canal Place. file: SALIDA-009[gd].JPG.

Charlotte, North Carolina National Whitewater Course
U. S. National Whitewater Center - The attraction at an amusement park is the roller coaster. The attraction at a whitewater park is the whitewater course.
file: \USNWCO23[gd].JPG.



Photo Credits: Unless noted, photos by Robert B. Kauffman. Picture of Dr. Kauffman by Liz Metcalf. Note: a watercolor filter was used on most scenic photos.
(return to top of this page)
(return to rbk home)

Web Page Manager: Robert B. Kauffman:    Copyright  |  Privacy
Robert B. Kauffman, 7 Hill Top Drive, Frostburg, MD 21532.